Westmoreland athletes of the week: Greensburg Salem’s Aaren Putt, Penn-Trafford’s Brooke Cleland

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | 5:58 PM

Aaren Putt

School: Greensburg Salem

Sport: Baseball

Year: Junior

Claim to fame: Putt, who struck out two and walked one, allowed a leadoff hit to Mt. Pleasant’s Asker O’Connor and then retired the next 19 batters to lead Greensburg Salem to a 5-0 victory in a Section 1-4A game May 8. At the plate, Putt hit a sacrifice fly to drive in one run. This season, Putt is 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 17 walks. The victory by the Golden Lions (14-2, 10-2) clinched a tie for the section title with Yough. It was their first section title since 2012 and first for coach Bill Wisniewski.

“I thought I played pretty good. I did my job because I’m not an overpowering pitcher. I spotted my pitches, but the guys behind had my back. They made plays for me,” Putt said.

What does it mean to win a share of the section title for the first time since 2012?

It meant a lot to all of us, even coach. We haven’t experienced that. We always have a goal to put it up on the banner, and to accomplish that felt great.

What’s the team’s mindset heading into the WPIAL playoffs?

Right now, we’re pretty focused. We are focusing on ourselves. We feel like the only people that are going to beat us are ourselves.

How important was it to get the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs?

It felt great to get that bye. We were all excited when we got it, but we don’t want to think about it. We want to stay focused, have a great week of practice and go out and do our job.

What goes through your mind while you’re on the mound?

They expect for me to do good. I just go out there and I know I have a great set of guys that will make plays. I go out there, spot it and they work behind me to help me out.

What’s your favorite sport, football or baseball?

Football. There is something about Friday nights with our crowd and where our field is. There is nothing that beats that.

Brooke Cleland

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Sophomore

Year: Softball

Claim to fame: Cleland, who has a .500 batting average with six doubles, six home runs, 22 RBIs and 17 runs scored this season, had two hits, including a home run and two RBIs, to lead No. 1 Penn-Trafford (17-1, 14-0) to 5-2 win over Laurel Highlands in Section 1-5A action May 6. Cleland had four hits, including a homer and a double, and drove in four runs for the Warriors in a 7-5 win over Norwin in nonsection play May 8.

“The season has gone really well so far,” she said. “Our team has been playing as a team. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we will be in a good spot. I take it one at-bat at a time. I have a mindset when I go into the batter’s box that I’m going to hit the ball. I’m confident in my abilities to play.

What did the team learn from the 2-1 loss to Elizabeth Forward on May 7?

It affected us positively. We know how losing feels now, and we don’t like the feeling. We don’t want to lose again. We’re going to roll with it now.

What’s the team’s mindset heading into the WPIAL playoffs?

We’re going to take it one game, one at-bat and one pitch at a time. We aren’t going to overlook any opponent, and we need to stay level headed.

How important was it to get the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs?

It was huge. We needed that, and we knew what we needed to do to get that No. 1 seed. It’s a good feeling to see that you have a bye in the first round.

What’s your favorite thing about hitting?

The outcome. It’s always about what you can do at the plate to help your team. I like getting my team pumped up after a good at bat.

What’s your favorite sport, basketball or softball?

Softball. I have played softball from a young age. That’s always something I want to put more time and effort more so than I do basketball.

— Andrew John

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